Beauty among the thorns

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Today our family was supposed to leave for a 2 week family camping trip. We were going to camp our way to Liberty University and back to watch Rob walk across the stage and receive his college diploma. We were going to see friends along the way that we haven’t seen in way too long. We were going to enjoy some of our favorite things – camping and road trips.

Unfortunately, the trip was cancelled due to the Covid outbreak.

I admit, I was a little saddened as I used White-Out on our refrigerator calendar yesterday to remove the trip as I turned the page to May. We were all looking forward to that trip and it tugged at my heart a bit that we aren’t able to take it and to celebrate Rob in that way.

However, today I will count my gifts. Today, I am choosing JOY. I choose to be thankful, not FOR all circumstances, but IN all circumstances just as Paul tells us in the Bible.

“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)

Back at our church in NC, I was blessed to go through a Bible study using the book One Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. The author had lived through some very difficult times and she challenged her readers to focus their minds on the gifts God gives us each day. She encouraged us to make a list of 1000 gifts – things we are thankful for. She talked about EUCHARISTEO, the Greek word for “give thanks”, and how important that became in her life. If you haven’t read the book, I encourage you to do so.

So today as I think about my gifts, the incredible blessings God has given me, I will choose to think about those things instead of the disappointments.


  • The sunshine
  • The desert blooms that are sprouting up all over
  • The time together as a family at home
  • Our game night last night
  • A kitchen with plenty of food
  • The job Rob has that provides for our family
  • My husband, my best friend and the extra time I get with him working from home
  • Homeschooling
  • The worship songs I hear my daughter singing down the hall
  • Her beautiful voice and heart for loving God
  • The relationship we have with our teenage daughter
  • God’s word, the Bible
  • My warm cup of coffee
  • Technology that allows us to keep in touch with friends and family
  • My comfortable bed and favorite blanket
  • Our home
  • My slippers
  • My colored pens
  • Craft supplies
  • Our ice cream maker

These are just but a few of the many, many things I can choose to be thankful for today. What are you thankful for today? I promise that if you will truly look for the good in each day, and ask God to show it to you, then you will see it.

Growing up, I remember singing an old hymn called Count Your Blessings. It’s a great reminder for us each and every day to look for the good. The good is always there, even in the midst of the hard times. I know this because God is good, and he is always there.

If you’d like to listen to it, you can do that here:

If you’d prefer to read it, here are the lyrics:

When upon life’s billows you are tempest tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one;
Count your blessings, see what God hath done;
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord hath done.

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?
Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?
Count your many blessings, every doubt will fly,
And you will be singing as the days go by.


When you look at others with their lands and gold,
Think that Christ has promised you His wealth untold.
Count your many blessings, money cannot buy
Your reward in heaven, nor your hope on high.


So amid the conflict, whether great or small,
Do not be discouraged, God is over all;
Count your many blessings, angels will attend,
Help and comfort give you to your journey’s end.

I hope and pray that today, in the midst of the chaos and the unknown, you will count your gifts and give thanks to the Lord God who has given them to you.

Always choose JOY!

God loves you so much!

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It’s Spring in El Paso, and I just love to hear the birds singing each morning. I am constantly in awe of God’s creativity when I look at his creation, and birds are no exception. There are so many types of birds – all colors, shapes and sizes. God could have just made one kind of bird, but he chose to make so many different kinds. Big ones, tiny ones, colorful ones, and ones that blend in to their surroundings. Just like people – we come in all colors, shapes and sizes and we are all so very special to him.

Birds are a great reminder to me of God’s great love because he takes care of them, just as he takes care of us. If he cares about the little sparrow, or the tiny hummingbird, then how much more does he care for me and you? He made us in his image, and he wants a personal relationship with us.

The Lord hears each baby bird’s cry of hunger and provides just what it needs for that day. We too can trust in the Lord to provide for us our daily bread each and every day. He will always provide for the needs of his people. He never leaves us or forsakes us. We just need to trust him.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” (Matthew 10:29-31)

Psalm 1

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“How happy is the one who does not walk in the advice of the wicked or stand in the pathway with sinners or sit in the company of mockers!

Instead, his delight is in the Lord’s instruction, and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside flowing streams that bears its fruit in its season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.

The wicked are not like this; instead, they are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand up in the judgement, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked leads to ruin.”

I love this Psalm! What a beautiful reminder of how we are to be spending our time each day.

We are not to be walking in the advice of the wicked. We are not to be standing with sinners. We are not to be sitting in the company of mockers. Verse 6 tells us that their way will lead to ruin.  

What are you filling your mind with each day – through Facebook, TV shows, your circle of friends? People that gossip and talk about others? People that grumble and complain? People who are grieving God with their actions? People who encourage you to do things that don’t honor God? We have to frequently evaluate this.

Instead, we are to be constantly delighting in the LORD! This is where we get our true JOY! We are to meditate on (study) his Word each day so that we grow closer to him. “Like a tree planted beside flowing streams” – We are to plant ourselves beside the one, true Living Water (Jesus!). When we plant ourselves beside Jesus, when we spend time in his word each day, and when we communicate with him both day and night through prayer – THEN we will truly “bloom where we are planted”.  We will bear fruit for Jesus in his season, in his timing. We will not dry up and wither because we are getting our life from the Living Water that never runs dry.

Take time to spend with Jesus today! Nurture that relationship above all others. He loves you and will never leave you nor forsake you.

Good Friday

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Have you ever thought about how you would spend your last days if you knew you were going to die? What would you do?

This week, over 2,000 years ago when most people were preparing to celebrate the Passover, what was Jesus doing?

He was preparing to die. He knew exactly what was coming. He knew without a doubt that the next day he would die a horrible, excruciating, painful death. He also knew that the reason for the death was our sin. Mine and yours and everyone else’s.

How did he choose to spend his last days?

He WASHED FEET. Not his own, but those of his disciples. He didn’t sit back and have them wash his feet. He could have, and it would have been well deserved. After all, he was about to die for them. Instead, he washed their feet. Their dirty, dusty, sweaty feet.

That’s amazing enough, but Jesus took it a step further and made it incredible. See, when Jesus washed his disciples’ feet, he washed ALL his disciples’ feet. When he ate with his disciples, he ate with ALL his disciples.


Judas was there.

Jesus already knew who would betray him. He knew about the deal Judas had made to trade Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. Yet, he treated him with love anyway. He washed Judas’ feet and included him at the table as he ate with his disciples, his friends.

As a human, it is hard to comprehend how to love someone who has actively betrayed us. How to be kind to those who have hurt us deeply. How to forgive. How to pray for our enemies as Jesus tells us to do in Matthew 5:44.

Thankfully, we don’t have to do it on our own power. In fact, we can’t possibly muster up the strength to do it ourselves. But, as followers of Christ, we have the power of the Holy Spirit living inside us – and when we call on him, he will give us the strength to show mercy. Even, or especially, to those that are hardest to show mercy to.

After all, aren’t we all a Judas? Haven’t we all betrayed Jesus with our sin? Haven’t we all chosen worldly pleasures over him at some point in our lives?

I am so thankful that on that Friday, over 2000 years ago, Jesus was willing to become the sacrifice for our sins. For my sin. To cover a debt that I owe, but could never pay. To tear down the wall of sin that separates me from God, and instead to allow me to spend eternity living in Heaven with him and feasting at his table.

Even me.

We don’t know what day will be our last, but God does. We will all leave this earth one day. Whether we have a few days or many years left – how do we want to spend that time?

“I give you a new command: Love one another. Just as I have loved you, you are also to love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” (John 13:34-35)

We’re moving back into a house

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After 3 ½ years of RV living, we’ve decided to move back into a house. We absolutely loved living in an RV, but here are the main reasons that helped us make this decision for this season of our life.

  • We’re stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, TX. We absolutely love it here! The people, the climate, the sunshine, the mountains – all of it. However, the RV campgrounds here are really set up more for temporary campers. They are great for people passing through on their way to somewhere else, but they aren’t great for long term people. In NC and GA, we had some incredible campgrounds with lots of trees, shade, swimming, and activities. Here, the campgrounds are basically giant parking lots. No trees, no shade, no pools and no activities for the community. We couldn’t even have a picnic table or a campfire. What’s camping without campfires?
  • Another motivating factor was that Rob missed having his woodworking shop. He has been so busy with school and work lately that he’s been ok without it, but his school is coming to an end so he was looking forward to having more time to play with his tools. Again, at our previous campgrounds he was able to do some of that, but not here. I wanted him to have a shop.
  • I wouldn’t mind more room to do my crafts either. I was able to do some sewing and crafting in the camper, but having more room to spread out would be a bonus.
  • We want to be able to have people over more for meals, to watch a sports game, whatever. We just would like to be able to host people more often.

We do still plan to go camping! Although we’ll be selling the 5th wheel, we kept our little camper that was the first one we lived in. We plan to take that out on weekends when we can for family camping trips. We’ll make sure we go places where we can have a campfire!

So, here we go into our next season of life. We’ll probably always enjoy camping, and one day we might even live in a camper again. But for the next few years at least, we’re going to enjoy house living again.

We’ve arrived at Fort Bliss

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We are now stationed at Fort Bliss in El Paso, TX. It is absolutely beautiful here. There are mountains all around us in every direction. The sunsets and sunrises are spectacular because there aren’t a lot of tall buildings blocking the view.

I really didn’t know what to expect. I’ve never lived in the desert before. We’ve spent a lot of time on the East coast, so I knew it would be different. When we told people we were going to Fort Bliss, so many people were discouraging telling me all the reasons I wouldn’t like it. I usually just ignore those people. We really believe that each duty station has its pros and cons and we always set out to find the good in each place that we live. I really do believe that each post is what you make of it. If you get out and look for the good, you’ll find it. If you look for things to complain about, you’ll find those too.

So far, we absolutely love it here. Driving in from East Texas was an interesting drive. Gas stations and places to stop are few and far between after you get past Midland. But as you get closer and closer to El Paso, the mountains and the desert make for some beautiful views! Turns out, I love the desert views! It’s definitely different than the East coast with trees everywhere, but it’s beautiful here too – just different. I really like the landscape. When we were in North Carolina we always said it was nice being a few hours from the mountains. Here, we have mountains everywhere we look – just minutes away!

I’m looking forward to doing a lot of hiking here! There is a State Park right in El Paso, and so many different hiking trails available – we might never do them all. The city also has just about any store we could ever want. Target, Whole Foods, Sprouts, Chick-Fil-A, Barnes & Noble. The traffic here is so much better than other big cities we’ve lived in (Dallas!). The people are friendly. There’s lots of great Mexican food to be found, and we hear the food trucks have some delicious offerings, so we’ll have to check those out.

I’ll be back later to let you know some of our favorite things about the area. I can already tell you 2 of them. 1) The lack of humidity! 2) This is the first time in years that we won’t be running from any hurricanes!

My Dad

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My last post from Christmas Eve has been a hard one to follow. That day truly ended up very unexpected for me. About 12 hours after I wrote that post, my Dad went to be with Jesus while I was at my parents’ house visiting for Christmas.  He had been very sick for a very long time so it wasn’t completely out of the blue, but that exact day…that exact moment…it was very unexpected.

My dad came into my life when I was an adult. In fact, he and my mom got married just 9 months after Rob and I got married. He might not have been the dad I grew up with, but he was truly the best dad I’ve ever known. He was such an amazing blessing for our whole family. He was madly in love with my mom and together they went on many fun adventures – motorcycle trips, camping trips across the country, and always making the best of every day. He was a brilliant engineer and woodworker and although he was retired, he could always be found tinkering and building something out in the shop. He loved trains – was fascinated by them. He also loved people – he loved working with people, teaching people – just being around people. He was great at teaching complicated subjects in an easy to understand way. He volunteered with a florist, the police department, a woodworker’s group that made toys for kids – he was always doing something for someone else.

He was the best dad ever to both me and to Rob. He and Rob loved to work on projects together – fixing something, building something – anything they could do. They even worked on their scroll saws together inside our RV one day – so fun! He was the most incredible Granddad to Emily. From the day she was born, he loved her and always made sure she knew that. They had a priceless relationship and could often be found tinkering with something together as they both shared that engineer type brain and loved to know how things worked.

Dad was almost always happy. He just enjoyed living life. He loved my mom, his friends and his family with his whole heart. He would do anything for anyone. Even when his health got bad and he was so ready to go see Jesus, he approached each day with as much joy as he could. He was so thankful for all the care my mom gave him, but he so wanted to take care of her instead. He looked for the good in every day.

I miss my dad, but I feel so honored and blessed to have been able to spend 17 years with him. A lifetime of good experiences and memories fill those 17 years. I wish I could see him and hear his voice again, but my heart rejoices because I know he is no longer sick, hurting, or struggling to breathe. Instead he’s side by side with the greatest woodworker of all – Jesus! He’s with our Savior – no more sorrow, no more pain. I look forward to seeing him again one day!

An Unexpected Christmas

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This morning as I think about this Christmas, I think about the many people I know for whom this Christmas is extra hard. It’s just not the Christmas they expected or wanted it to be. Some mourning the loss of a parent, others the loss of a spouse, and still others the loss of children. Many are separated from their spouse on this day due to military deployments or assignments. Many are laying sick or injured in a hospital bed or dealing with an life threatening disease. For many, it’s just not what they expected.

And then I also think about this day – the real Christmas Day that happened over 2000 years ago – and I think how that day didn’t go as people expected either. Our Savior, our King of Kings and Lord of Lords was coming. But he wasn’t coming to be born in a huge palace. Instead, he was born in a humble stable. That was unexpected.

His mother was an ordinary, young, teenage mother who wasn’t famous or well known. That was unexpected.

The first people to receive news of Jesus’ birth were the lowly, despised shepherds as they watched over their flocks. This was unexpected.

None of this was an accident, it was God’s plan. Jesus left his glorious home in heaven where everything is perfect to come down to this earth for us. He chose a humble beginning because he came to this earth to serve others and to save us – not to be a powerful earthly King. He wants us to adore him, not because of his power and riches, but because of his love for us. Because the gift he gives us is something money can’t buy and actions can’t earn.

The greatest gift we could ever receive is something we can’t buy or earn. That too is unexpected.

I pray you will receive this precious gift this year if you haven’t already. I pray you will have a very unexpected and beautiful Christmas this year.

Leave no man behind

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A common phrase in the military is, “Leave no man behind”. In fact, part of the Soldier’s Creed is, “I will never leave a fallen comrade.

In Matthew 18:12, Jesus says, “What do you think? If someone has a hundred sheep, and one of them goes astray, won’t he leave the ninety-nine on the hillside and go and search for the stray?

We are that lost sheep, and God will never leave us behind, if we are seeking him. I think it’s amazing that he doesn’t simply allow us to come to him. That alone is an overwhelming thought. Can you imagine the President of the United States just allowing anyone and everyone to just walk into his office anytime? Or the President of any major company? The Queen of England? Of course not! Even your neighbor probably doesn’t want you just walking in their house unannounced. But God, the Creator of the world, allows us to come to him anytime day or night without an appointment. He is never too busy to listen to us. He never hides from us.

But it gets better! He doesn’t simply allow us to come to him, but he actively pursues us. He chases us down and tries repeatedly to get our attention because he does not want any of his creation to be left behind or to spend eternity in Hell. Ultimately, He leaves the choice to us, because that is free will. He doesn’t force us to come to him, because force is not love. But he never, ever gives up pursuing us.

Just like we desire relationships with other people, God desires that relationship with each of us. He wants us to come to him, to talk to him, seek his help. He knows everything about you – everything you’ve ever done, everything that’s been done to you, and everything you will do. In spite of all that, he LOVES you more than any human being ever could, and he pursues you because he wants you to spend eternity with him. He doesn’t want anyone to perish, but he allows you to make the choice. Will you choose HIM? Choose to accept his love?

The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9

If you are a parent of multiple kids, have you ever had one wander off in a store or at the zoo? Didn’t you go looking for them, calling their name, trying to get their attention? When you found them, didn’t you rejoice? That’s how God feels about you! He is looking for you to come to him, and together with all the angels he will rejoice when you make the decision to turn to him.

“What do you think? If a man owns a hundred sheep, and one of them wanders away, will he not leave the ninety-nine on the hills and go to look for the one that wandered off? And if he finds it, truly I tell you, he is happier about that one sheep than about the ninety-nine that did not wander off. In the same way your Father in heaven is not willing that any of these little ones should perish.
Matthew 18:12-14

Revive Me!

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Matthew 22:37 says,

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it. Love your neighbor as yourself. All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

So often we hear this scripture quoted in reference to how we are to love others. Speakers and preachers will remind us that we are to love our neighbor, and even our enemy, as much as we love ourselves or as much as we love God. However, I think we often skip over the first part of this verse. We read it, but then we move on as if we’ve got the first part down and only need to work on the second. We think to ourselves, “Of course I love God! It’s that other person I have trouble loving.

Do we really love God?

If we go back and read it, we see that we are to love God with ALL our heart. ALL our soul. ALL our mind. Am I really doing that – loving him with my whole heart, not just part of it?

Am I putting God first in everything I do? Do I start my day with him every single day? Seek his word and his will in all things?

Do I obey his word? Not just the Ten Commandments, but all of it – even the parts that tell me not to worry, or to go and make disciples.

Do I really trust him with everything?

Our church is in the middle of a revival time this week. We are having several times to gather together, sing worship songs, and hear a speaker share God’s word with us. It’s a sweet, sweet time. I’m sure you are familiar with the word revival. You’ve probably even seen it on a church sign advertising an upcoming event. But what does it mean? Why are we having a period of revival as a church? The simple answer is because we want to love God more. It’s something that all followers of Jesus Christ need, not just the people that attend this one specific church building on Sundays. So, as a church, we are committing to focus on this more intensely this week.

According to Webster, REVIVAL means “a renewed attention to or interest in something”

In the Bible, when the word REVIVED is used, it literally means “to return to life”. We see this in I Kings 17:22, when God brings a boy back to life from the dead.

We need to bring our love for God back from the dead. To renew our interest in Him, and our attention to Him. I know I’m guilty of losing my passion sometimes in the middle of the day to day life stuff. We let ourselves get too busy. Distraction is a tool the enemy uses to keep our eyes focused on things of this world, instead of on Jesus! It’s very effective. In fact, a few distractions and suddenly we are doing the enemy’s work for him by keeping our heart, soul, and mind on things of this temporary world that don’t matter instead of on Jesus – the only One who does matter.

In Revelation 3:15-16, Jesus is talking to one of the churches and he says, “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth!

Whether you drink water, coffee or tea – you probably like your drink hot or cold, but not lukewarm. Just like those drinks are disgusting to us at that temperature, it’s distasteful to Jesus when our feelings for him are lukewarm.

What does it mean to be lukewarm? We become indifferent to him by letting the distractions of the world kill our passion and love for him. We then let our indifference become idleness and we stop living for Christ. Maybe we just barely get by in our relationship with him. We read our Bible as a checkmark on our To-Do list instead of to truly meet with him and hear from him. We go to church because it’s tradition rather than because we are going to worship him. Or maybe we stop going to church because we’d rather sleep in, we have other activities on Sundays, or we don’t get along with someone at church. Ultimately, when we allow other things, no matter how big or small, to become more important than Jesus – we’ve become lukewarm.

When this happens we get focused on ourselves, what we want, and what will make us happy. Jesus doesn’t want us to follow him halfway or be Christians in name only. He wants us to be passionate and on fire for him! He wants us to constantly revive our faith.

I’m praying for revival this week. In my heart, in our family, in our church, and in our community. We need Jesus more than ever, and until the day he returns to take us home, we need to live our lives for him.